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Valedictory Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:24 pm on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham 5:24 pm, 5th November 2019

Absolutely I agree. I fundamentally believe that we should implement all the recommendations of the ICO and the Electoral Commission, because the legal structure under which we are fighting the election is open to electoral fraud. That is the position in which we are going into the general election.

On electoral fraud, I want to refer to some correspondence that Dominic Cummings sent to another person in the referendum campaign in 2016. He was talking about breaking spending limits in the referendum, and that led to an offence for which Vote Leave was fined. Dominic Cummings said:

“We’ve now got all the money we can spend legally. You should NOT send us your 100k. However, there is another organisation that could spend your money. Would you be willing to send the 100k to some social media ninjas who could usefully spend it on behalf of this organisation? I am very confident it would be well spent in the final crucial 5 days. Obviously it would be entirely legal.”

The truth is that it was not legal at all, and Vote Leave was fined in connection with that campaign. As a result, the matter was referred to the police and has now been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, and the investigation is ongoing.

Furthermore, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Prime Minister were both aware of the fact that offences had been committed and were both heavily involved in Vote Leave. This document also has a statement from Dominic Cummings, which he wrote and sent to the Electoral Commission. He said:

“I never discussed VL’s donations to BL”— the donations to BeLeave for which Vote Leave was fined—

“with either of them (before the referendum) and to the best of my knowledge neither did anybody else and they were wholly unaware of this issue until after the referendum.”

So, both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster were aware of Vote Leave’s offences, but they have not come clean to the House of Commons or to the DCMS Committee by producing that evidence. Furthermore, Dominic Cummings has refused to come to the DCMS Committee to speak about these matters. Even worse, the Prime Minister will not tell him to come to this House to speak to the Select Committee to explain himself and to give evidence. I have secured these documents through the Committee, and I am placing them on the public record, because they relate to something that should be known by the public before we vote in a general election. That information has been withheld from the British public, and it ought to be known.

What the British public also need to know is that, apart from the honourable Conservative Members facing me at the moment, we have a Government whose leadership includes a Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who is in charge of electoral reform and who is not divulging his full knowledge of the 2016 referendum, his role in it, and the offences committed at the time. If this House is to regain the respect of the public, Select Committees need real powers to compel witnesses to attend. We should never again be frustrated by a Prime Minister who prevents a witness from giving evidence to a Committee.

It has been a real honour to be in this place. I have loved every minute. I love this House of Commons, and I will be sad to leave. We need to respect each other more in this House but—to go back to my mother and my father—we must have basic honesty. There is nothing complicated about that. Telling the truth and straight- forwardness are the principles that we should stick to, but I am afraid the Government do not have them at the moment.